Director John Moore signs on to helm sequel
The long chattered-about “Die Hard 5” has finally signed on a director to bring the fifth John McClane film to the screen. 20th Century Fox reportedly had a long wish list of directors for the property, including Joe Cornish, Justin Lin, Nicolas Winding Refn, Gary Fleder, Paul McGuigan, and Mikael Hafstrom, with Deadline reporting that John Moore has proven to be the final choice.
Moore has previously directed a number of other action properties that don’t have quite the cache (or frankly, the cash) value of “Die Hard.” He’s helmed “Behind Enemy Lines,” “Max Payne,” “Flight of the Phoenix,” and “The Omen.” All of Moore’s films have been with Fox, so his hiring is sort of a no-brainer move by the studio, a bit of a promotion for the helmer, who has yet to have a bonafide blockbuster. But while Fox is firmly Team Moore, apparently the director had to sell himself a bit to Willis, who has reportedly been “very hands-on in the selection of ‘Die Hard’ directors.” Willis liked that Moore has an affection for his McClane character and that he has a “grasp of how to shoot practical, non-CGI-heavy action scenes that have been a hallmark of the ‘Die Hard’ series.”
The film is set to shoot in Russia, where the plot is based. The script is by Skip Woods and reportedly involves McClane and his son, who get entangled in international conflict while in the motherland. Whereas McClane’s daughter, Lucy, had a central role in the last film, “Live Free or Die Hard,” John McClane, Jr. has never been a big part of the franchise. We do know that he was born in 1984 and that he goes by the nickname Jack and that he goes by his mother’s last name, Gennero. Will “Die Hard 5” be a big reunion film for the two? Seems likely.
The actor's presidential campaign drama, "The Ides of March," is greeted warmly by the festival crowd
The 68th Annual Venice Film Festival opened today with a screening of George Clooney’s highly anticipated “The Ides of March.” The political thriller, directed by Clooney and also starring Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood, got an enthusiastic reception from the tough Venice crowd and Clooney, as usual, charmed the socks off reporters. The actor, who plays a presidential candidate in the film, was asked if he would ever consider running for president himself. “There’s a guy in office right now who is smarter than almost anybody you know,” Clooney replied, “who is nicer, who has more compassion than almost anybody you know, and he’s having an almost impossible time governing. Why would anyone volunteer for that job?”
The Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica is the oldest film festival in the world. It started in 1932 and its top prize, the Golden Lion (once called the Mussolini Cup!), is one of the most coveted awards by filmmakers. Not that it always translates to big box office. Last year’s Golden Lion winner, Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” was a financial flop in this country despite the accolades it received by the prestigious Venice jury. Copolla’s film was only one of a handful of American films to ever win the top prize at the festival. Previous winners include John Cassavetes’ “Gloria,” Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts,” Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain,” and Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler.”
Other films in competition for this year’s top honors include Ami Canaan Mann's “Texas Killing Fields” with Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain, Tomas Alfredson’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” with Gary Oldman and Colin Firth, Abel Ferrara’s “4:44 Last Day on Earth” with Willem Dafoe, William Friedkin’s “Killer Joe” with Matthew McConaughey, and David Cronenbourg’s “A Dangerous Method” with Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen. A depressing crop of films, to be sure, but ones that are bound to get a lot of rapt attention at their star-studded Venetian premieres.
His next directorial effort adds Tate Donovan, Taylor Schilling, and Nelson Franklin
Ben Affleck has made the jump to behind-the-camera work with two surprisingly assured crime dramas. Both of his Boston-set films, “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” showed a promising directorial career for the actor, and his next film, “Argo,” only looks to continue the trend.
After using his younger brother, Casey Affleck, as the male lead in his directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone,” Affleck was prepared to both star in and direct his sophomore effort, “The Town.” It looks like double duty worked for him, as Affleck will star in his next film, “Argo,” alongside a truly impressive and in-demand cast that includes Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Kyle Chandler, Bryan Cranston, and Scoot McNairy.
The film chronicles the true story of a CIA team that posed as a film crew in 1979 Tehran in order to rescue a group of diplomats. The film takes its title from the fake film title the agents used for their faux-sci-fi film. Chris Terrio penned the script from Joshua Bearman’s 2007 article that appeared in Wired magazine, which detailed the entire incident.
The film has now added three more cast members, with Tate Donovan signed on to play a U.S. embassy consular officer, Taylor Schilling cast as Affleck’s wife, and Nelson Franklin set as a reporter. Variety and /Film reported on the particulars of the casting. Donovan is a consistently solid actor, so Affleck should have an easy time directing him. Schilling will next be seen in the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ “The Lucky One,” which marks her biggest role to date. Franklin has put in a lot of time with memorable bit parts in comedies, particularly “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” and “I Love You, Man,” so he likely stands to benefit the most from a dramatic role under Affleck’s hand.
Do you like Affleck’s films? Are you excited for “Argo”?
Fighting, acting, and dealing with the jump to stardom
It's the classic tale of Hollywood hyperacceleration -- you work on a few films over a few years that all come out at once. It's happening to Jessica Chastain, whose current performance in 'The Debt" will be followed by a host of other movies -- and whose work opposite Sam Worthington and Marton Csokas as a Mossad agent in the '60s (with Helen Mirren, Ciarán Hinds and Tom Wilkinson as the three-decades-later versions of those characters) drives much of the movie's excitement. We spoke with Chastain in Los Angeles as part of a round-table interview about "The Debt," the fast-forward jump of her career and on going into the voice over booth over 60 times for "Tree of Life."
Talk about, first of all obviously this movie, 'The Debt,' and working with Sam...
Chastain: Well, I was really, really fortunate because on 'The Debt' was the first time I met Sam, and a few months before we started shooting, we all came out to London, we all had dinner together — Sam, Marton, John Madden and I. And we knew kind of from the very beginning, the three of us guys, this is going to work. We really liked each other, we were laughing a lot. I felt like the chemistry was absolutely there. And that continued on through the shooting. I’d never done an action film. I mean, most of you guys know this — I went to Juilliard, I was trained in Shakespeare and the classics, and so the idea of me running and jumping into a moving van and shooting guns was so foreign to me. And Sam was wonderful because it wasn’t foreign to him, and he really was my coach during this film — my like action coach, where he would show me the best ways to hold a gun or ... Even with the running scenes, he was teasing me. He nicknamed me Tommy Cruise because he says that my action run was as good as Tom Cruise’s. So we had real good fun. After working with him on that, we joked that we had a three-picture deal. So when 'Texas Killing Fields' came up, I thought, well it’s another opportunity to work with him. And now I’m just looking for the third picture. Maybe we’ll expand it to a five-picture deal.
You tend to be unrecognizable in each of your roles. How important is the transformational aspect for you in terms of getting further away from either previous roles or yourself?
Chastain: To me it’s everything, because I don’t want to play the same thing twice. I’ve already started to feel, when 'Tree of Life' came out, I started to get these scripts, and I was like, 'These are all ‘Tree of Life’ scripts.' They’re like very supportive, stand-by-your-man-type of women. So I do see that Hollywood does try to think, Oh she can do that so let’s have her do it again. And I’m really fortunate that it goes from 'Tree of Life' to 'The Help' to 'Take Shelter,' where I’m hoping that they just won’t know what to do with me. And in fact after I do all my press, I’m going to go shoot a genre film at the end of the year because I’ve never done that before. It’s called 'Mama.' It’s Guillermo del Toro’s company.
Tickets available for pre-release showings on September 4
Adding to an already crowded Labor Day weekend at the box office, Lionsgate has announced that they will be offering nationwide sneak peeks at Gavin O'Connor's "Warrior" by way of screenings on Sunday, September 4 at 7PM. The film officially opens on Friday, September 9, but Lionsgate is looking to capitalize on good buzz for the film by drawing in moviegoers early to get a taste of what could be a real contender come awards time. The film stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as dueling brothers who hash out their personal issues in the MMA ring. However, despite that quick and dirty plot description, the film offers much more than just bare-knuckled brawling.
The film already has an 83% Fresh rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, so critical buzz on this one is strong. And, if you're looking to get a more expanded take on the film, by way of my thoughts, you can check out my four-star review of the film over at Boxoffice Magazine. Is the film this year's "The Fighter"? I certainly think so, and I can't wait to see what moviegoers think of the film this weekend.
Labor Day weekend is, however, already packed with a number of very different films. "The Help" should continue to hold over, and it will be joined by "Shark Night 3D," "The Debt" (which opens today), "Apollo 18," "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy," "Saving Private Perez," and the limited release of "Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life." Will audiences turn to "Warrior" instead?
Lionsgate announced the preview plan by way of their Twitter and a promoted trending topic, #WarriorMovieSneakPreview. Tickets for the screenings can be purchased through a special website, right here.
Will you go see "Warrior" this weekend?
Hires David Koepp to write the script
The award-winning prison thriller from Spain is as smart as it is harrowing
"Cell 211" (Zeitgeist), a volatile thriller from Spain about a young guard trapped in the midst of a prison riot, is already being looked at by Hollywood for remake potential. Make a point of seeing the superb original, which is visceral and intelligent, with layers of political complexities (both national and internal) and a touchy buddy story at the center.
Alberto Ammann stars as the guard who, on tour of the prison before he even begins his job, is trapped behind enemy lines when a well-planned riot led by a dangerous but principled lifer (Luis Tosar) takes control of the main block. The guard has to pose as one of the inmates to survive the ordeal, dangerous enough under normal circumstances but even more nerve-wracking in a situation on the verge of exploding into violence at any turn. After all, a riot is great cover for a murder or two.
"Cell 211" is gripping and unsettling and the script makes the most of unexpected (but completely credible) turns in the chaos of the stand-off and the pressure-cooker tension in the cell block, where the violent criminals barely keep it together as the stand-off drags on. A cell of political prisoners only piles more gunpowder on a situation that is one spark away from blowing up. And the guard's dawning realization of the depth of corruption and lies in the system as it turns against him as well only makes it more compelling. His survival becomes tied with the success of the inmates. The film won eight Goya Awards in Spain, including Best Film, Best Director (Daniel Monzon), Best Adapted Screenplay and acting awards for Tosar, Ammann and actress Marta Etura.
In Spanish with English subtitles, plus a half-hour Spanish language featurette "The Making of Cell 211."